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Johnson wins 4th straight Nextel Cup race

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by Greg Cozzo
November 11, 2007

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Jimmie Johnson
CIA Stock Photo

Avondale, AZ – When some predicted a much tamer driving style for Jimmie Johnson after his win in Texas last week, someone forgot to tell the driver of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet. During moments of the race it looked like Johnson was the driver sitting second in points while taking chances and running three wide. Johnson turned risk into reward with his first ever victory at the tight one mile oval, fourth straight win and tenth of the season.

 Ironically enough, the last time a driver won four in a row, Jeff Gordon completed the feat in 1998 on his way to 13 victories that season and a NASCAR Championship for Hendrick Motorsports.

“I’m just doing my job. I’m just so lucky to be in such great equipment,” Johnson said

Fifth on a restart on Lap 275, after the 10th caution of the race, Johnson moved quickly to the front, passing Matt Kenseth for second position on Lap 283 and powering past Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on Lap 288 of the 312-lap race.

From that point on, Johnson pulled away to record his series- and career-best 10th victory of season. It is the 33rd of his career, tying him for 18th all time with Fireball Roberts.

Gordon struggled with the handling of his No. 24 Chevrolet throughout the race, though he ran as high as second after the leaders got off-sequence on pit stops. Gordon restarted fourth and Johnson 10th after a caution for Kasey Kahne’s wreck on Lap 148, but Johnson ran down Gordon for the second position 25 laps later, as the No. 48 began to assert its dominance.

The eighth caution of the race, for Dave Blaney’s spin in Turn 2 on Lap 233, put all the front-runners back on the same pit sequence. With a two-tire call, Newman won the race off pit road and led the field to a restart on Lap 240, with Kenseth second, Stewart third, Clint Bowyer fourth, Truex fifth and Johnson sixth.

Johnson’s 33rd career victory extended his 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup lead to 86 points heading to south Florida for the season finale, the Ford 400, from Homestead Miami Speedway. He can wrap up his second straight championship with a finish of 18th or better next weekend. Sitting in almost the same position he was in going into Homestead last year, Johnson admits this will be a long week:

“Seven more days until we do it again. I’m just going to try and keep my mind clear and worry about the things I can control. Make sure my guys and my team are all doing the same thing.”

Hendrick Motorsports has dominated 2007 with three teams in the Chase (Johnson, Gordon & Kyle Busch) and 18 wins in 35 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. This win was also a testament to the focus from the #48 team as this marked their 11th win during the new Chase format. The next best team has only four victories.

The race weekend kicked off with much discussion about open wheel stars and their appearance at the second to last race of the 2007 season. Juan Pablo Montoya has clinched Rookie of the Year honors with a 17th place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. Sam Hornish Jr. made his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup debut in Phoenix and finished a respectable 30th. When asked about his day, Hornish was very excited about the possibilities:

“I just need to better understand what I can do during the race to improve my car. We made big changes throughout the day and we really started to find something in the latter part of the race.”

Patrick Carpentier, who is replacing Scott Riggs in the #10 Evernham Dodge, ended his oval race debut in 33rd. Jacque Villeneuve, made contact in the race with Carpentier’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, and was unable to recover the #27 Unicef Toyota, retiring and finishing 41st.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 190/5 312 Running
2 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford Dish Network 170/0 312 Running
3 18 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 175/10 312 Running
4 21 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 160/0 312 Running
5 13 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 160/5 312 Running
6 34 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 150/0 312 Running
7 2 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 151/5 312 Running
8 38 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 142/0 312 Running
9 12 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 138/0 312 Running
10 3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 134/0 312 Running
11 20 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 130/0 312 Running
12 9 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 127/0 312 Running
13 11 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 124/0 312 Running
14 4 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 121/0 312 Running
15 5 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet FleetPride / Yellow 118/0 312 Running
16 15 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Ground 115/0 312 Running
17 14 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Texaco / Havoline 112/0 312 Running
18 32 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 109/0 312 Running
19 25 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 111/5 312 Running
20 37 40 David Stremme Dodge Wrigley's Juicy Fruit 103/0 312 Running
21 22 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 100/0 312 Running
22 19 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 97/0 312 Running
23 23 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Industrial Tools 94/0 312 Running
24 39 7 Robby Gordon Ford MAPEI / Menards 91/0 312 Running
25 29 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 88/0 311 Running
26 28 01 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 85/0 311 Running
27 16 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Siemens / Dodge Dealers 82/0 311 Running
28 42 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 79/0 311 Running
29 36 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 76/0 311 Running
30 26 06 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 73/0 310 Running
31 17 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 70/0 310 Running
32 41 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA Insurance 67/0 310 Running
33 24 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Sears Auto Center / Valvoline / Stanley 64/0 310 Running
34 43 21 Bill Elliott Ford Ore-Ida Extra Crispy / Heinz 61/0 310 Running
35 33 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Pedigree 58/0 309 Running
36 30 36 Johnny Benson Toyota 360 OTC 55/0 308 Running
37 8 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 52/0 291 Running
38 31 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 49/0 241 Running
39 40 66 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Haas Automation 46/0 212 Running
40 10 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers Lifetime Powertrain Warranty / UAW 43/0 147 Off Track
41 27 127 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota UNICEF 40/0 136 Off Track
42 1 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 42/5 125 Off Track
43 35 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 34/0 118 Off Track

* Denotes Rookie

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